Monday, December 08, 2008

The King's Rose

A new and different approach to the Tudors and Henry VIII, Alisa Libby's The King's Rose tells the story of Henry's fifth wife, Catherine Howard. Cousin to Anne Boleyn, Catherine's story reveals her concerns with the marriage even before the king's proposal. Free from any glaring historical anomalies, The King's Rose builds upon real letters and testimonies to develop a love plot between Catherine and her cousin Thomas. The novel is structured around the contradictions of court life. Though outsiders to the situation may see her as greedy, this portrayal of Catherine focuses on her young age and responsibility, especially as her marriage is presented as a duty. In this way, The King's Rose tells the story of a teenage girl who perhaps isn't ready to become Queen, but who is thrown into the position regardless in order to protect her family interests and then must struggle to balance King Henry's interests with her own.

Considering my interest in history, I truly enjoyed reading The King's Rose. To my knowledge, the setting is accurate and well developed, though liberty was clearly taken with the romantic plot. I was pleased to note Libby's emphasis on the importance of family in early English society, between Henry's nightmares over his heir and Catherine's rise to Queen as critical to social status of the Howard lineage. Though I knew how the novel would end, I appreciated how Libby led into it. Like Catherine herself, the reader feels helpless to the control of the council and upon finishing will likely contemplate Catherine's decisions as I couldn't help but do. In addition to young adults, this novel is certainly accessible to an older crowd with an interest in the Tudor era and the many wives of Henry VII.

Reviewer Age:19

Reviewer City, State and Country: Farmington, CT USA